A NDY REED
COMMUNICATION Rather than producing endless reports that sing the praises of physical activity, we need to improve the way we present this evidence to government, says Andy Reed © SHUTTERSTOCK/BLURAZ
eports are launched regularly showing that physical activity is good for us, is cost effective and would save the nation
billions. So why are so few policy makers listening to this message? At the Sports Think Tank we receive reports, evidence, brochures and academic reports daily. But rather than producing report after report that all say the same thing, perhaps we need to work out whether they are making the right impact. How much systematic change has actually been embedded in policy making as a result of these reports? We know the answer is not a lot. The isolated pockets of good practise remain small and insignificant. In many cases, such as
We know that physical activity is good for us, but are we convincing government?
in schools, we are going backwards. analysis and evidence. What counts
A unified message We have to remember, of course, that we are not lobbying in a vacuum. Other interests are rightly making their cases too for the limited investment available. There is so much to be gained by unifying our message and realising that we all have a role to play in this massive
as ‘evidence’ is all too often created
We talk about saving the NHS billions, but there are many conflicting figures. Do these figures have any practical meaning?
in isolation compared to other investments the government could make – even if it had the money. But just as crucially, we then need to have a consistent and long-term approach to our messaging and advocacy into government. It’s time to learn how to unify as a sector and work much
task. I am afraid that too often, individual sectors believe they alone hold the
a public good and ukactive has been
solution. Can we be really honest and
good at making sure we focus on that.
harder on our collective lobbying. Let’s stop gathering backslapping reports and concentrate on effectively
say there aren’t lots of different avenues
changing government policy and the
We talk about saving the NHS billions, but
public attitude to physical activity.
Too many still talk about sport and
even here I have seen so many conflicting
Let’s create a movement that will gain
physical activity and obesity in the
figures – from £2bn a year to £50bn a year
attention outside our own sector. ●
same breath. A physical activity strategy
by 2050. Do these figures have any practical
isn’t about tackling obesity – far more
meaning to an NHS that’s struggling to
of that battle will be won by tackling
get A&E patients through its doors?
to getting the nation more active? But we continue to mix our messages.
diet and nutrition. Physical activity is
We also need much smarter, deeper
Andy Reed is the founder of Sports Think Tank, former MP for Loughborough, and chair of SAPCA sportsthinktank.com ISSUE 2 2018